Amid all the talk McLaren could cut Daniel Ricciardo loose, a key detail in his contract has been revealed that changes everything.
Daniel Ricciardo reportedly has the power to break his contract with McLaren early, rather than the other way around, it’s been revealed.
The Aussie driver is in the second season of a three-year deal with the F1 team, who he joined in 2021 after quitting Renault, although his results over the past 18 months have been hugely disappointing.
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McLaren boss Zak Brown revealed last month there are “mechanisms” in the contract between the two parties that could terminate it early, before the full three-year term is up.
That led to speculation about performance clauses in Ricciardo’s contract, perhaps giving McLaren the freedom to cut the 32-year-old loose if his run of poor results continued.
“I don’t want to get into the contract, but there are mechanisms in which we’re committed to each other, and mechanisms in which we’re not,” Brown said last week.
However, Scott Mitchell of The Race reports McLaren cannot choose to end the working arrangement early, but Ricciardo can.
“It seems to be his choice to make, at least,” Mitchell added, putting a remark Brown made recently into context he said: “We’ll just see how things develop, what he (Ricciardo) wants to do.”
After Ricciardo’s well-documented 2021 struggles, there have been precious few signs of improvement in 2022, apart from a sixth-placed finish at his home grand prix in Melbourne. His next best result after that was 12th at the Spanish Grand Prix — where he dropped from ninth on the grid.
Monaco used to be his favourite circuit, but last weekend Ricciardo limped to a 13th-placed finish after qualifying 14th on the grid, once again outshone by teammate Lando Norris, who crossed the line in sixth.
The British driver has 48 points in 2022 compared to Ricciardo’s 11. Norris has finished inside the top 10 in five of seven races this year, including a podium finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and Brown said recently the young gun has a clear “edge” over Ricciardo.
But as rumours swirl about the Honey Badger’s future, he remains committed to F1 and believes he has several good years left of racing of him.
“The more people ask me (about retirement), I’m like, ‘F*** that, I want to stay longer!’” Ricciardo told RacingNews365 in an exclusive interview when asked about his “shelf life” in the sport.
“What’s my shelf life? I still think there’s a good handful of years left in me competitively. But, if I said five more years, and in my fifth year I start winning a bunch of races and I’m fighting for a world championship, I’m definitely not going to retire at the end of that fifth year.
“So it’s relative as well to competitiveness (and) desire.”
However, Ricciardo knows how many years he has left may not be entirely up to him. He needs a team willing to give him a contract.
“I want to keep carrying on for a handful of years, but there’s no guarantee,” he said.
“Yes, I’ve done F1 enough now that people know that I’m capable driver. But people also forget, there’s no guarantee that in two years’ time, everyone’s going to be like, ‘We want to sign you’.
“There’s not 10 contracts under your door, so it’s in my hands as well, and not only my desire, but of course my competitiveness.”